Yearly Synopsis: 1977

Pat continued dating Faith, trying to keep away from Delia and transfer any feelings that he had for her onto Faith. Finally, he proposed to Faith, and she accepted instantly. Delia was desperate to stop the wedding plans, and now that she knew she was pregnant she finally told Frank that she would give him his divorce - on the condition that he give her a $10,000 settlement, which he had offered to do earlier in an attempt to buy his freedom. Jill, meanwhile, was back in the hospital on the brink of miscarriage, more afraid than ever that telling Frank that Seneca was the father would make losing the baby a fait accompli, so, she said nothing as Frank maxed out all of his credit to pay Delia off and then got on a plane to the Dominican Republic for a quick divorce. Roger, completely unaware of Delia's pregnancy, happened to mention to Faith while wallowing in self-pity that Delia did not sleep with him once while they were planning their runaway.

Meanwhile, the Ryans were thrilled that Pat and Faith were engaged. They were in such a rush to get them married and keep Delia from changing Pat's mind that they threw a quick engagement party which half of the family could not attend: Frank was in the Dominican Republic getting the divorce, Jill was in the hospital, and even Maeve had to leave town to help Kathleen, who had broken her leg, take care of her children. The Ryans even made Delia help set up the party, and Delia had no choice but to keep quiet about the baby until the divorce came through, lest the family should convince Frank to stall the divorce to keep her from getting Pat to marry her.

Frank finally returned home right in the middle of the engagement party, with the divorce finalized and the settlement money transferred to Delia's bank account. So, right in the middle of the party, Delia took Pat aside and told him she was pregnant with his child. He was furious and, at first, did not even believe her. However, her doctor confirmed that she was pregnant and Roger, in a rare moment of honesty, admitted to Pat that there was no way that he (Roger) was the father, reiterating his earlier admission to Faith that he and Delia had not slept with each other since their affair over half a year earlier when Delia was still with Frank. Pat had no choice but to accept that Delia was telling the truth, though he was completely at a loss as far as what to do about it or how to tell Faith.

That same night of Pat and Faith's engagement party, Jill learned that her pregnancy complications had passed and the baby would live, so when Frank returned home, she told him that she had slept with Seneca at the beach house and that he was the baby's father. Frank was furious and demanded she return his engagement ring, and Jill felt for the first time what it was like to be on the receiving end of Frank's moral indignation. Worse, the Ryans all circled the wagons to express their disappointment with Jill as well when they found out.

The night of Pat and Faith's engagement party was also the night that Jack left the Ryans' apartment, without Mary. The distance between Jack and Mary had continued to grow in the new year, as Jack, still impotent and very bitter about it, grew more and more paranoid about Mary's friendship with Alex. Mary did not turn against Jack because of his outrageous accusations, but at the same time she did not stop flirting with Alex or spending much of her spare time with him, as Jack sat in bed alone and bitter, so things only got worse. The Ryans also welcomed Alex into their midst with open arms, which did not help Jack's disposition any either. Finally, Mary agreed to go to Connecticut with Alex to see his new farm, and decided not to tell Jack where she was going. Unfortunately, they got stuck in a blizzard and had to spend the night.

When Mary returned home the next morning, Jack hurled all kinds of accusations at her, leading to an especially awful fight, which Johnny in his infinite wisdom felt compelled to interrupt to interject the suggestion that, if Jack did not want Mary or the baby, they should get an annulment. Jack, remembering that Mary had taunted him with the fact that not wanting children was grounds for a church annulment before his accident, decided that was not such a bad idea. He felt inadequate because of his impotence, he did not want to share Mary with the baby, and he did not think he would be a very good father anyway. He was convinced that Mary would end up leaving him for one or more of those reasons, just as everyone else he had loved had left him, so he decided to leave her first. He rationalized that Mary could find someone else, who would be the kind of husband he thought she wanted and the kind of father/stepfather the baby deserved.

Mary was furious at Johnny and determined to stop Jack. Jack met with Father McShane to find out about an annulment, who tried desperately to talk Jack out of it and finally got him to promise that he would wait until after he had tried the corrective surgery for his impotence before going through with the annulment. At first, Jack was too incapacitated to leave Mary and the Ryans anyway, but finally, when he was a little better, while the Ryans were too busy making final plans for Pat and Faith's party to notice, he snuck out of the bar and took a cab to his old apartment (since none of his friends would help him leave Mary). When Mary arrived home from work she learned he was gone, and immediately went downtown to beg him to come home, but he refused, even though his injuries were still so bad it was doubtful he could even take care of himself. Mary had no choice but to leave, and she returned to Ryan's for the engagement party, dejected.

When Jack moved out of Ryan's, he accidentally left his painkillers behind, and Delia, whose pregnancy scam was not going according to plan, was the one to find them. Pat had finally gotten around to telling Faith the truth, who forgave him almost instantly and still wanted to go ahead with the wedding. She even offered to raise the baby herself. Delia was not about to let that happen. She arranged for all the Ryans to find out she was carrying Pat's baby by going to an abortion clinic and then faking an hysterical tantrum during a consultation, so that the doctor would call Maeve to come and take her home. Maeve and Johnny, up in arms due to their stern anti-abortion sentiments, played right into Delia's hands and told Pat that he had to marry Delia, to keep her from going through with the abortion and to protect the baby from her instability after it was born.

Pat still dragged his heels and refused to make a decision, however, so Delia once again faked a suicide attempt. She took a handful of Jack's pills and arranged for Pat to "save" her, and sure enough he was so guilt-ridden that he agreed to marry her. He then broke off his engagement with Faith, who was deviated. Mary and especially Frank were determined to talk Pat out of it, wanting Delia to have no part in the family whatsoever, but Pat would not hear of it. He even reminded Frank that he was the last person who should be giving personal advice, since he had made such a mess of his own love life. Pat had a point, since at the time Frank continuing to shut Jill out completely, prompting Jill to bond with Seneca, somewhat, over her pregnancy. Finally, Seneca suggested to Jill that they go out to her beach house, in the middle of winter, to get away from the stress of the hospital and Frank.

When they arrived, Seneca went out for firewood, leaving Jill alone in the house. Shortly thereafter, she went into premature labor, and was in too much pain to get to the phone. By the time Seneca returned, the baby was about to be born at any minute. Before an ambulance could arrive, Seneca was forced to deliver the baby - a boy, whom they named Edmond, after Jill's father. When the ambulance was still delayed and the newborn had trouble breathing, Jill had to drive them all to the hospital herself while Seneca administered CPR. Edmond was tiny and very weak, and it seemed unlikely he would survive. And, no sooner then Edmond did survive all of his premature birth complications, he was then found to have hydrocephalus, a condition which was causing swelling in his brain.

Edmond needed a very risky shunt operation, one which Roger had performed before and which he would be the most adept surgeon to perform, of the doctors who were in the area and would not need to take the time to fly into New York. Jill convinced Seneca to allow Roger to perform the operation, and Seneca convinced the hospital administration to agree to it as well. Seneca insisted on observing the surgery. The procedure was successful and it turned out that Edmond would survive after all, but during the course of the operation Edmond needed a blood transfusion, and Seneca was shocked to learn the baby's blood type. It did not seem possible that Edmond could have that blood type, if Seneca were his father.

Suddenly, Seneca was faced with the possibility that Frank was Edmond's father after all - at the same time that Frank and Jill seemed to be working toward a reconciliation. Frank had come to Jill to offer his sympathies during Edmond's troubles, and the two grew closer. Frank was prepared to reunite with Jill, even with Seneca's inevitable presence in their life through Edmond. And, Frank was pursuing the possibility of running for Congress in 1978, now that his scandals with Delia and Jill had subsided somewhat in the year since he had dropped out of his last Congressional race. This time, Frank wanted to be completely open with voters about his relationship with Jill, so there would be no gossip and/or scandal. He wanted to run for office with Jill as his wife, and as a bonus he felt the two of them living in Washington for six months out of the year with Little John (of whom he was sure that he and Jill would get custody) and Edmond would be the perfect way to keep Seneca, whose presence Frank loathed, out of their lives.

Seneca had no intention of allowing that to happen, but his most immediate concern was proving to himself that Edmond was his son to begin with. Meanwhile, Roger, who had witnessed Seneca's puzzlement about Edmond's blood type during the operation, became suspicious of Seneca. After thoroughly researching the blood types, Seneca found there to be a remote possibility that he could still be Edmond's father, depending on a subtype of Jill's blood. This subtype was so minor, however, that it had been accidentally omitted from her file at Riverside Hospital, and nobody had missed it. Seneca did not want to tell Jill about the possibility of Frank being Edmond's father until he was sure one way or the other - for fear that it would speed along her reunion with Frank - so he had to a way to get her blood type secretly.

It was recommended that Jill and Seneca take Edmond to a hydrocephalus specialist in Philadelphia, and Seneca asked this doctor to do blood work on him and Jill, under the guise of hereditary testing related to Edmond's condition. She was very suspicious of Seneca's motive, but agreed to do what he had asked out of professional respect for him. Seneca also knowingly arranged for the appointment to be on the same day as an important political meeting for Frank, at which Jill's presence was of the utmost importance to show to the party leaders that she would be a part of the package with Frank, for better or worse. Seneca then told Jill that that was the only appointment they could get for weeks, and it would be best to meet with the doctor as quickly as possible.

Frank did not like that at all. After all, he had been willing to accept Edmond and Seneca in Jill's life, but he assumed that they would take the back seat to him and his political career whenever the need arose. He suggested that Jill at least talk to the specialist herself to confirm that the appointment really was urgent and that the doctor really was booked for as long as Seneca had said that she was. Jill however was so furious that Frank expected her to put his needs ahead of the needs of her sick child that she refused out of spite. And when Jill and Seneca ended up having to spend the night in Philadelphia at the last minute, Frank was even more furious. Jill was appalled at Frank's self-centeredness and realized the relationship was not going to work if Frank was going to become jealous every time Edmond needed to take priority. Both angry and at their most stubborn, Frank and Jill broke up again.

Seneca saw this as a sign of hope for him and Jill, until the specialist got back to him with Jill's subtype, which proved that Frank was definitely Edmond's father. Seneca was shattered. Initially he had every intention of telling Jill, but, much the same way as Jill had had trouble finding the time to tell Frank the "truth" when it had appeared that Seneca was the father, Seneca could not find the words. Then, when Jill nonchalantly asked him after a particularly bitter encounter with Frank to do everything possible to take her mind off of Frank, Seneca's controlling nature reared its ugly head, and he took her request to mean that he should not tell her that Frank was Edmond's father until he had determined her to be sufficiently "over" Frank.

Unfortunately, Roger had figured out what Seneca's secret was and, after bribing several hospital records people, he found proof of Edmond's paternity, in the form of Frank, Jill, and Seneca's blood types. Roger then used this as ammunition to blackmail Seneca into rehiring him at Riverside Hospital. At first, Seneca refused, but when Roger subsequently told Jill, right in front of Seneca, that Seneca had rehired him - and Jill revealed that she had been secretly hoping Seneca would do so ever since Roger saved Edmond's life - Seneca found he could not tell her that Roger was lying. So, Seneca gave in to Roger's blackmail.

In the midst of the joy of having his job back, Roger suddenly found himself entangled in Delia's latest intrigue, although he would not realize the full extent of what he was mixed up in for some time to come. Just after Pat had agreed to marry Delia, the pills she had used to that end caused an adverse effect: a miscarriage. Delia began experiencing severe pains and, terrified that she was losing the baby, crawled into bed and tried to pretend that nothing was happening. Delia had always milked every illness, injury, and crisis for maximum sympathy, and in this case being the girl who cried wolf worked to her advantage, as nobody took her pain seriously. Maeve dismissed her and Mary, who was bitter over the fact that Jack had abandoned her and her baby - while Pat had done the opposite in regard to Delia - verbally attacked her, completely oblivious to the fact that Delia was losing her baby.

With great pain, Delia managed to convince Kevin to watch Little John for her and make it out of the apartment. Unfortunately, she could not get farther than the OB-GYN department at Riverside Hospital, across the street from Ryan's Bar. However, Delia was still able to scheme, so she checked herself in under an alias - as Mrs. Sheila Brown, the same name she had assigned to the fictional friend whom she had used as an alibi when she was cheating on Frank with Roger. A paraprofessional named Alicia Nieves cared for Delia as she lost the baby. When Delia awoke from her sedative after having had a D&C, the doctor told her that she could not have sex for several weeks and that she had to stay in the clinic for observation overnight. Delia, of course, did not listen and left the clinic without even checking herself out the minute that Alicia and the doctor turned their backs, leaving behind a pair of earrings. Alicia decided to hold onto the earrings, in case she ever saw "Mrs. Brown" again, since the address Delia had given did not exist. Delia, meanwhile, went home and pretended nothing had happened, telling Maeve that she had been out hunting for an apartment in which she and Pat could live after the wedding when Maeve scolded her for being so late and not calling.

Delia tried to talk Pat into postponing the wedding long enough for her to have recovered from her miscarriage, but she could not give any good reason for her change of heart and so he would not hear of it. He and Maeve pointed out that Delia would surely be showing soon, and besides, Pat seemed very eager to get to the honeymoon. Delia was saved, however, by a situation at the hospital: Lack of funding from the city (which was in the middle of the recession and inflation) had prompted massive budget cuts. A substantial portion of the staff was fired, leading to 120-hour work weeks for the already overworked residents and interns, as well as a temporary suspension of all vacation time for those same interns and residents. With his time off revoked, Pat had no choice but to postpone the wedding, having promised Delia a honeymoon of some sort (and, again, looking very much forward to having one himself).

By the time Pat could get the time off, Delia had recovered from the miscarriage. During the wait, Delia ran into Alicia at Lem's Restaurant, who called her "Mrs. Brown" and gave her back her earrings. Roger also happened to be there and saw the whole exchange, and took great delight in tormenting Delia by asking who "Mrs. Brown" was. She did not tell him anything, however, and Roger had no idea how serious the scheme was. Alicia was later transferred to the neurology department, after the staff cutbacks resulted in a Spanish-speaking patient in the department almost dying because nobody could understand what he was trying to tell them; the department needed someone who could speak Spanish and Alicia fit the bill. Delia was horrified to learn that Alicia would be working with Pat, but Alicia assured her that she would not violate patient privacy by divulging Delia's secret. Alicia even kept silent when Roger (who recognized her from the encounter at Lem's) badgered her relentlessly about "Mrs. Brown."

Delia returned the favor by getting Bob to help Alicia after she was accused of stealing money from an elderly patient with a penchant for hiding her belongings, instead of giving them to hospital personnel for safekeeping. After Alicia was proven innocent, she and Bob began dating, and Alicia was so grateful to Delia for her help that she even befriended her. With Roger and Alicia neutralized (for the moment), Delia finally married Pat, in a small ceremony in a judge's chambers (since Delia's divorce from Frank precluded a church wedding) and with most of the Ryans, amazingly, in attendance. Maeve even persuaded Mary to attend out of support for Pat.

Delia was relieved, to an extent, to have added another "Ryan" to the end of her ever-growing full name, though she was not at all sure how she was going to keep Pat now that she had lost the baby. Delia also had no idea how close Pat had come to not marrying her: Just before the wedding, a very nervous Pat, who was beginning to realize what being Delia's full-time protector would be like, admitted to Frank that if Faith were to ask him to run off with her, he would leave Delia, while Bucky simultaneously convinced Faith to go to Ryan's before the wedding to try one last time to talk Pat out of marrying Delia. She arrived only minutes after the family had left for the courthouse, and would not humiliate herself by going to the courthouse to stop the wedding, so the nuptials had gone off on schedule.

The hospital cutbacks may have (initially) benefited Delia, but they were causing havoc for everyone else. Bucky, Faith, and especially Pat - who was also trying to fulfill Delia's unending demands 24/7 - were exhausted, and as Bucky half-jokingly said to Pat, with everyone so dog-tired, someone could make a mistake. In the midst of this chaos, Jack checked into Riverside Hospital to have the corrective surgery for his impotence. He had not really recovered enough from his car crash injuries to undergo the procedure, but Father McShane (for Mary's benefit) had managed to stall the Diocese on Jack's annulment request until he had had the surgery, on the grounds that Jack had initially promised Father McShane that he would wait until after the surgery to proceed. So, Jack immediately found a doctor willing to perform the operation.

Mary was convinced that most of Jack's fears stemmed from his impotence and she hoped that, if he could be cured, he would return to her and their unborn child. Meanwhile, Mary took every opportunity to try to change Jack's mind about the annulment and the baby. She especially wanted him to take part in the childbirth - she was planning to undergo the experimental Leboyer childbirth method, which supposedly made the child's entrance into the world less traumatic and provided much bonding for the mother, father, and baby. At one point, she even offered him a deal: If he went to natural childbirth classes with her and was there for the delivery and still wanted nothing to do with her or the baby, she would give him the annulment without a fight. Mary, of course, was sure that under those circumstances Jack would change his mind, and Jack was terrified that she was right, so he refused.

Really, Jack stood little chance of getting the annulment without Mary's consent, which he knew he needed because Mary would never give up on him as long as they were married "in the eyes of God." First he needed a civil divorce, which he was pursuing on the very shaky grounds of "cruel and inhuman treatment." Even if he could prove that, he still needed two witnesses for the annulment to testify that he had said he did not want children before the wedding. Jack convinced his friend Jumbo to testify about a conversation they had had before Jack had even met Mary, even though Jumbo was completely opposed to the annulment and had not taken the conversation seriously at the time. The only other potential witness who had heard Jack say anything against children was Johnny Ryan himself, who, despite his hatred of Jack, refused to testify at Mary's request. Jack was hoping to wear Mary down enough that she would give in and not fight the annulment.

First, however, Jack needed to have the surgery, which was a success. In the course of his hospital stay, however, Jack was the victim of several mishaps resulting from the exhausted staff. Some of the mix-ups were merely innocuous but, in one case, when Jack was accidentally given medication to which he was allergic, he almost died. Jack was furious, and when Pat inadvertently told him about all the hospital cutbacks, Jack angrily announced to the staff that he was going to write a column about his experiences at Riverside. The hospital sent its public relations officer, Tom Desmond, to try to talk Jack out of it. Jack was appalled by Tom's suggestion that he should not print the story because it would instill a fear of going to the hospital in his readers that would only hurt them in the long run (in other words, ignorance is bliss). And when Tom sent a beautiful physical therapist to flirt with Jack and to try to talk him out of printing his story, Jack was livid.

Mary and Maeve met Tom while visiting Jack (against his will) in the hospital, and they on the other hand liked Tom very much. A native Irishman, with a brogue, who quoted Yeats, Tom seemed like the son and brother that Maeve and Mary had never had, and after one meeting they insisted on taking him to Ryan's. Johnny was even more impressed with Tom, especially after he learned about Tom and Jack's animosity, and he began not-so-subtly pushing Mary toward Tom. Mary said she liked Tom only as a friend, however, and besides she still hoped that Jack would return to her before the baby was born. Jack did not soften toward Mary or the baby, however, even after the surgery. He also printed a scathing column about the hospital as promised, and of course the Ryans, never ones to question establishment, joined Tom in his outrage at Jack.

Meanwhile, as Mary's due date grew closer, it seemed less and less likely that Jack would change his mind, though it was obvious that Jack was miserable without Mary. One day, Delia - whose marriages to both of the Ryan boys Mary had always been so quick to criticize - ran into Mary and Frank while visiting Little John at Ryan's and gloated about their failed relationships with Jack and Jill, respectively. An embittered Mary responded by slapping Delia. Delia played the incident for as much pity as it was worth with the Ryans, and she wanted Pat to rise to the occasion and defend her honor, but he had just begun a thirty-six hour shift at the hospital and refused to come home. Furious, Delia came up with a plan to a) make Pat feel guilty, b) get back at Mary and the Ryans for "being mean" to her, and c) solve the problem of her non-pregnancy: With Pat away from their apartment, she took the opportunity to fake a miscarriage.

Delia called the OB-GYN department at the hospital and, doing a dead-on impression of Mary at her most judgmental, claimed to be a concerned sister who was convinced that her "weird" sister-in-law had faked a pregnancy to get her (Delia's) brother to marry her and then staged a miscarriage while the brother was out of town on business, and asked if such a thing were medically possible. Delia not only discovered that it was possible, but she also found out how long she would have to wait after the alleged miscarriage before going to a doctor.

She then proceeded to call Maeve and her gynecologist to complain of feeling sick, but downplayed the symptoms; Maeve did not have the time to come and help her since it was the dinner hour (which Delia had been counting on) and she thought Delia was exaggerating anyway, while the doctor did not even answer his phone and Delia merely left a not-so-urgent message with his service. Then, the next morning, Delia called Maeve and said she had lost the baby. She claimed she had not called anyone for help because Pat had yelled at her for bothering him at work, and once she realized what was happening she could not get to the phone. Maeve took her to the doctor who, sure enough, believed she had just had a miscarriage.

Pat, however, was determined to stand by his wedding vows, baby or not, especially since Delia would surely need him more than ever after her miscarriage. Frank and Mary both tried to talk him out of it. Mary, in particularly, could barely contain her glee at the prospect of Pat leaving Delia high and dry and reuniting with Faith. Perhaps as some sort of karma, Mary went into labor just hours after rubbing Delia's nose in the fact that her overdose had most likely caused the miscarriage (in response to Delia's insinuation that Mary had caused the miscarriage by slapping Delia). However, Jack did not drop everything to rush to Mary's side, as Pat had done for Delia. In fact, when Johnny reluctantly called Jack to tell him that Mary was having the baby, he headed for the San Gennaro Social Club to get drunk.

Jack's friends actually managed to convince him to go to the hospital - in fact, in his altered state, he even said he would give it another try with Mary and the baby - but by the time Jack got to the hospital he was so inebriated that a nasty nurse not only would not let him in the delivery room, but threw him out of the building. Jack lost his nerve when he sobered up, though he did visit the baby, a girl, whom Mary named Ryan Fenelli (which made Jack furious). Mary learned from Sister Mary Joel and Jumbo that Jack had been to see Ryan in the nursery, and sent him a message: On the day she was to be released from the hospital, she would wait until a given time for him to come and pick them up, and if he did not show, she and the baby would go back to the Ryans'. After much agonizing, Jack finally did show up at the last possible minute, just in time to see a parade (with bagpipers and everything) leading Mary and Ryan home to the Ryans'. Tom Desmond was at the head of the parade. Jack was so intimidated and furious all at once that he left without anyone even seeing him.

After Jack did not show, Mary seriously began to consider the possibility that the marriage really was over. She went to Jack and asked him how to stop loving her. Ask and you shall receive: Jack then pulled a series of outrageous stunts designed to convince Mary to divorce him. First, he accepted an invitation to Ryan's baptism, only to bring a date - the same physical therapist Tom had sent after Jack - thereby humiliating Mary in front of her whole family. Jack then took it a step further when he ran into Martha McKee, the reporter who had exposed Frank's affair with Jill the year before, and went to bed with her.

It was Delia, of all people, who caused Mary to find Jack with Martha. Delia had been causing problems for Pat, who was already exhausted from his unbearable hours at the hospital, by demanding his attention and refusing to allow him to sleep on the rare occasions when he was home. Even Delia herself realized that these were the same mistakes she had made with Frank, except Pat had a lot more compassion than his typically self-centered brother, so he tried to accommodate Delia's demands as often as he could. As such, Pat was even more exhausted than the hospital's other residents and interns, and when Alicia's adolescent brother, Angel, was admitted to neurology after being hit in the head with a baseball, Pat made a critical error in judgment. He assumed Angel's subsequent illness was the result of a head injury and scheduled surgery without even asking about Angel's medical history. The surgical team discovered after opening up Angel's skull that he had meningitis; it turned out that he had been feeling sick for a while. By delaying treatment for the meningitis, and by risking further infection by doing the surgery, Pat had caused serious damage to Angel. At first, it seemed that Angel would die. He survived, but was paralyzed on the left side of his body.

Treatment was bound to be costly and long-term, and Alicia filed a lawsuit against the hospital. She made it clear that she did not want revenge on Pat, nor was she looking to cash in on Angel's condition - but she knew she would be unable to pay Angel's hospital bills herself, and she was his sole guardian after their parents had died several years earlier in a fire at the grocery store they had owned. Nobody could argue that Alicia was doing the right thing - even the Ryans felt for her - but Pat was in hot water. He was summoned to appear before a medical review board. Delia was horrified - not about the potential loss of Pat's medical career, but because the family might blame her for not letting Pat sleep - and so she went to Jack's apartment late at night to beg him to use his column to help Pat, whereupon she found Jack and Martha together.

Jack rudely sent Delia away, and she decided to get even with him (and with Mary, for all the animosity between them over the years) by telling Mary that she had gone to Jack's apartment and found him drinking and depressed. Mary was not sure whether or not to believe Delia, but she was worried about Jack, so she went to see for herself. Several minutes after she had arrived, Martha walked out of the bathroom in Jack's robe. For Mary, that was the last straw: The marriage was over. She agreed to the divorce, and gave Johnny her blessing to testify for the annulment.

At this point, the only one who remained convinced that Jack and Mary belonged together was Maeve, but Mary did not listen to her and went ahead with ending the marriage. Jack offered child support, but Mary refused, saying she did not even want to see his name on a check every month. She even insisted on a stipulation in the divorce saying that if she remarried, her new husband could adopt Ryan without Mary even consulting Jack. Jack hated that, but was not willing to admit that he cared about the baby, so he agreed. The divorce and annulment came through, and Jack finally had all the freedom and "space" he had wanted, but he soon found it to be somewhat less solace than he had hoped it would be.

Meanwhile, Mary began spending more and more time with Tom, which thrilled Johnny. Tom was always eager to puff up Johnny, even going so far as to buy him a very Freudian "shillelagh" (an Irish walking stick), with which they often "joked" about clobbering Jack over the head, symbolizing the fact that, as long as Mary was spending her time with Tom, Johnny's position as Oedipal father and alpha male in her life would be secure. Mary resented Johnny's heavy-handedness about Tom, but she genuinely liked Tom. However, she did not feel ready for another relationship, and even tried to set Tom up with Faith, but Tom continued to pursue Mary. Mary found the attention hard to resist after being hurt by Jack, and she was intrigued by Tom - she began to notice that as much as Tom loved to tell stories, he never seemed to reveal much about himself.

Tom claimed to be from a small town in Cork that neighbored Maeve's native Skiboreen(?), but he made several slip-ups when Maeve questioned him about home. When Maeve wrote to her sister, Maura, to investigate the mystery, she learned that none of the Desmond families in the small town which Tom had claimed was his birthplace had a son named Tom living in America. Tom told everyone that he was a former boxer, but on several occasions he proved to be very disturbed by violence. The mystery grew when Mary visited his strange apartment, which one entered from the roof of the building next door, and which contained a bedroom hidden behind a secret door in the bookcase.

Mary learned too much when she began looking through a book on Tom's shelf and found a newspaper clipping from Tom's boxing career with his picture and a caption that read "Tom O'Brien." Tom admitted that he was really from Limerick and that he had fled Ireland and changed his last name, but told Mary that to reveal any more to her would put her in danger. He swore that he did nothing wrong and was not running from the law, but said nothing more except a vague reference to a woman he loved who had died. Mary believed Tom and agreed not to press the issue of his past, and continued seeing him.

Jack saw a lot of Mary and Tom together once he began investigating Pat's case at the hospital, as Tom was trying to keep the press out of the story and Mary was reporting on it herself for Channel R. Mary opted to suck up to Tom and the hospital brass in the hope that they would give her access and help Pat if she was not too critical of them. Jack, on the other hand, pulled no punches where Tom and the hospital were concerned, and publicly accused them of trying to railroad Pat in order to cover up the sub par care at Riverside stemming from an overexhausted staff. Indeed, it was clear that something was amiss when Pat was called before a hospital review board made up of a panel of old, conservative doctors in less than a day's notice and denied the right to be represented by counsel.

Frank was finally able to force his way into the hearing to represent Pat after threatening to tell Jack all about the hospital administration's refusal to allow Pat legal representation. The review board hearing pitted Frank against Seneca and Jill, both of whom were at the hearing - Seneca because he was head of neurology and Pat's immediate superior, and Jill because she was the hospital counsel. Frank did not do Pat any favors by turning the hearing into a personal confrontation with Jill and Seneca and hurling all kinds of accusations and innuendoes at them. As it turned out, Seneca and Jill were the only hospital representatives at the hearing who were not trying to railroad Pat.

Seneca and Jill were already growing closer at this point, raising Edmond together. At the hearing, Jill saw Frank in a whole new light: as a manipulative, arrogant blow-hard, just as Seneca had always seen him. Around this time, Jill began sleeping with Seneca again. One night, an extremely drunk Frank became nostalgic and suspected that maybe he had been too hard on Jill, and he went to her apartment to see if she would be willing to give him another chance. He found Seneca there, however, and Frank newfound introspection went right out the window. He automatically assumed Jill had been sleeping with Seneca since before they broke up, and said so right to their faces. Jill threw Frank out, and the battle lines were drawn.

The review board reached a decision about Pat very quickly, hoping to sweep the case under the rug before too much media scrutiny came down on the hospital. It appeared Pat was going to lose his job, as the doctors - who believed that insane hours were what being a hospital resident was about, and who were most unimpressed with Frank's temper tantrums - did not seem particularly sympathetic. Things took a turn for the worse when Pat was late arriving for the reconvened hearing, after Delia had turned off his alarm clock to keep him from leaving her to go work. However, Faith had called in a favor to have tests done on Angel quickly, tests which showed that he would likely recover from his paralysis with treatment. The review board changed their mind and allowed Pat to remain on-staff at Riverside - however, they put a letter of reprimand in his file, which would surely prevent him from getting a job at any decent medical facility after his residency, and they assigned Roger to monitor Pat's every move.

Roger was none too happy about the arrangement, as he was sure the setup was a conspiracy on Seneca's part to force him out of the hospital the next time Pat screwed up. However, Roger also got a sick thrill out of bossing Pat around, since he still hated the fact that Delia was married to Pat and not to him. Pat and the Ryans were not too happy about the turn of events either. He was lucky to still have his job, but everyone felt it was unfair for him to be penalized so severely for a mistake caused by overwork, a mistake all the other interns and residents knew they could have made just as easily. Even Alicia overcame most of her anger with Pat after she learned that Angel would recover.

Delia, meanwhile, was livid because Faith was the one to save the day for Pat. She hated that Pat and Faith were working with each other, even in different departments, and only drove Pat further away with her jealousy and her attempts to keep him from going to work. Maeve told Delia that she needed to give Pat room to breathe and find something to do with her life separate from Pat, perhaps volunteer work - Delia took this to mean that she should volunteer at the hospital so that she too could work alongside Pat. The plan backfired when she was assigned to work in the blood bank, which was in the basement of the hospital and nowhere near neurology and Pat. Roger helped Delia get out of the blood bank by telling her to pretend to faint at the sight of blood.

When Pat did not have the time to console and reassure Delia after the blood bank debacle, she started another fight with him, which prompted him to walk out on her and go to the residents' quarters at the hospital to get much-needed sleep. On the way, he ran into Faith and admitted to her that whatever happened with his marriage and career, he had to stop being the center of Delia's existence. The two kissed and Delia, who had followed Pat to the hospital, walked in just in time to see it. Delia ran off without confronting them, and became convinced that the same thing that had happened with Frank and Jill was repeating with Pat and Faith. She was determined to stop Pat and Faith from having an affair. She remembered that Pat had become interested in Faith again after her nervous breakdown, and assumed that she could therefore regain Pat's attention by staging her own nervous breakdown. An amused Roger, who was hoping the plan would backfire and Pat would dump Delia and she would come back to him, coached her and lent her medical textbooks from which she could learn about the appropriate symptoms that she would have to fake.

After Delia pulled a series of bizarre stunts - culminating in her leaving a note for Pat saying that she had gone "to be with my mother," only to haul up at her mother's gravesite and start doing her nails - she had the whole Ryan family very worried about her, and needless to say she put a speedy end to Pat's new resolve to stop trying to fix everything for her. Delia even managed to evoke sympathy from Mary, by pretending to think that Ryan was the baby she had miscarried. Pat insisted that Delia see a psychiatrist, and she even convinced the psychiatrist that she was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Pat left work early to take Delia home after her session (at the psychiatrist's suggestion), and when a nurse came looking for Pat to sign a patient's chart and Faith discovered Pat had left early, she knew he could get into further trouble with Roger and the review board. So, she forged his signature. When Roger found out that Pat had left early and his signature had somehow ended up on a chart after he had signed out, he insisted on filing a complaint with the hospital administration, not realizing that his own sister was the one who had forged Pat's signature.

When Faith admitted what she had done, she too got a letter of reprimand placed in her file and Pat received another one, this time without even the formality of a review board hearing. The interns and residents were up in arms about this, knowing that any of them could be next, and Frank took the opportunity to organize the previously lukewarm staff union, the House Association, for a full-fledged strike. In the midst of this, and on the night of an overwhelming victory in the primary election for his second run for the city council, Frank received an emergency call from Rae Woodard, the wife of William Price Woodard, a media mogul who was running for the Senate.

The Woodards' helicopter had crashed in Central Park, and Rae's husband was seriously injured and had been admitted to Riverside Hospital, and she wanted Frank to run interference with the press. Bill's condition was complicated by a serious heart problem that the Woodards were trying to downplay for the sake of the campaign. The Woodards' publishing empire was about to gobble up an unnamed New York City newspaper, but the previous (and somewhat eccentric) owner - whose family had founded and owned the paper for generations - had only agreed to the sale because she thought Bill Woodard, whom she personally liked would be personally running it. Now, Bill was near death, and Rae did not want the sale falling through.

Rae confided in Frank that she had been born "poor white trash" in Kansas, but had remade herself as a "sophisticated" socialite to fit into Bill's world. She was much younger than her husband, and she had initially met him while working as his secretary, not unlike Leona Helmsley. Rae also had a personality to go along with the Leona package. She drove the hospital staff crazy as she threw her weight around and talked down to the employees. She even wielded her influence to check into the hospital room next to Bill's - in neurology, despite the fact that the extent of her injuries was a few broken ribs - so that she could run his campaign out of the hospital, while he was on the verge of death.

Alicia was the only one on the staff who was patient and understanding enough to put up with Rae. Though, Rae was really only lashing out to compensate for her feelings of helplessness about Bill. Rae was determined not to allow Bill's injuries to stop his Senate campaign, even to the point of interfering in his medical care to get him to sign business documents when he was barely conscious. Rae's belligerence brought her into conflict with Jill, whose job it was to keep the hospital from being sued in the event that Rae's actions caused her husband to die prematurely. Jill was also somewhat jealous of Frank and Rae's new relationship - Rae was very graceful to Frank for his help keeping the media from finding out about the extent of Bill's injuries, especially since the merger was able to go off successfully.

Seneca and the rest of the neurology staff tried to convince Rae that the best course of treatment for Bill would be extended convalescence and rest, but they also were forced to tell her that there was a surgical procedure that would be very dangerous, given Bill's heart condition. Rae, however, insisted on the surgery, because a long-term recuperation would make it impossible for Bill to run for the Senate, and she felt that a life of leisure would be no life at all for someone as accustomed to action as Bill. After threatening to move Bill to another hospital if Seneca refused to allow the surgery - a move which would surely kill him, in his condition - the hospital agreed to the surgery.

Roger, who had been the only doctor on staff to favor surgery, was the one to operate. Unfortunately, the procedure did not go according to plan. Bill lived, but he had a heart attack on the operating table, which left him in a very weakened state. Running for the Senate was now out of the question; any stress at all might kill him. Rae felt guilty, in her own way, since she had been the one to make the decision, but the Woodards decided they would continue to be involved in politics, if only behind the scenes. They decided to repay Frank for his help by backing his run for Congress, and not long after that began discussing among themselves the possibility of giving Frank the organization they had set up for Bill to run for the Senate. Frank was thrilled by their support, though to his credit he kept his promise and continued supporting the residents and interns in the impending hospital strike.

Pat and Faith's letters of reprimand were major issues in said strike, and Delia hated the fact that the House Association situation was bringing them closer, so she stepped up her plan to fake a nervous breakdown. While dropping by the hospital to visit Pat, again, she overheard Pat and Faith joking about the abysmal state of their respective careers at the moment - and then she heard them joking about Delia's incessant neediness. Delia saw red, and burst in on them and began making accusations left and right. Pat and Faith tried to calm her down, but to no avail. She headed across the street to Ryan's - with Pat and Faith right behind her - where she staged a full nervous breakdown in front of the whole family.

Unfortunately for Delia, her plan worked too well (indeed, it seemed that at least part of her nervous breakdown actually was real), and she was committed to the psychiatric wing of Riverside Hospital. Though she had initially thought a stay in the hospital would be an excuse for Pat to have to come and visit her during work, she soon found that she did not care for life as a mental patient at all. Delia also lost a major ally when she slipped and attempted to excuse her unstable behavior - in front of Alicia - as the result stress from having had the miscarriage "all alone" in her apartment. Alicia saw how well Delia told that lie, and she also saw the great effort to which Delia would go to remain the center of attention. Alicia began to question keeping Delia's secret, while at the same time she began to realize what Pat was dealing with when he made the mistake with Angel, and forgave him.

Delia, meanwhile, begged Roger to help her get released, quickly, and Roger - who seemed genuinely sickened that Delia had taken her plot this far - pointed out that Delia could tell her psychiatrist that she had faked the breakdown, and he would not be able to tell Pat because of doctor-patient privilege. So, Delia came clean, for once, and was able to convince the psychiatrist that she was telling the truth by throwing around medical jargon that she had picked up from Roger's books. The psychiatrist did not particularly want to release Delia - realizing that her actions were a cry for help - but Delia made her confession on the eve of the hospital strike, when the hospital was trying to release all non-emergency patients. Delia qualified, so she got to go home.

Unfortunately, Pat was now faced with the sole responsibility of caring for a now officially unstable wife, while at the same time picketing and also being on standby at the hospital to help out with emergency cases (as the House Association never intended to hurt critically ill patients by striking). The very night that Delia was released, she nagged Pat into going out to dinner and a late movie, knowing that he had to be at the picket line the next morning, and then did everything in her power to keep him awake when they got home. The next morning, all of the interns and residents went on strike (except for Roger, who, true to form, was the one scab in the bunch). In desperation, an exhausted Pat stole a bottle of amphetamines from the hospital, and began taking the pills to stay awake, in conjunction with coffee and caffeine pills - in order to get through the strike. As the strike wore on and the hospital administration petulantly refused to negotiate, many of the interns and residents became discouraged and stopped reporting for the picket line, prompting Pat to devote even more time to the strike in their absence, thereby needing more and more pills.

As the strike got underway, Tom proved himself to be a good guy after all, despite his slimy profession, by trying to help Pat as best he could. He advised the Ryans to keep Pat's name out of the press coverage of the strike as much as possible, to avoid angering the hospital administration and jeopardizing Pat's tenuous career further. Mary managed to convince Jack, who was still covering the strike and finding many occasions to run into various Ryans - despite his claims to hate the family - to leave Pat's name out of his articles. One day when Jack was up in Riverside working on the strike story, he happened to stop in the park and ran into Miriam, Ryan's nanny (actually she was Edmond's nanny, whom Jill had agreed to share with Mary during the day). Miriam did not know who Jack was, but when Jack heard her call the (female) infant whom she was babysitting "Ryan," he realized this was his daughter.

Jack was captivated by Ryan, and began going to the park regularly, hoping to see her. He struck up conversations with Miriam, asked all about Ryan (with suspiciously little interest in Edmond), and even brought Ryan presents. After several meetings, Miriam mentioned the mystery man in the park to Maeve, who put the pieces together and realized Jack was visiting Ryan. This confirmed everything Maeve had suspected - that Jack still loved Mary and could be a good father - and she and Miriam devised a plan to further Jack's interest in his daughter. The next time Miriam saw Jack, she pretended to be abusive to Ryan, and he became as outraged as Maeve had hoped.

Jack actually went to Mary to try to warn her about Miriam, but in his stubbornness he refused to tell her that he had seen Ryan - instead, he made a clumsy, chauvinistic declaration he did not think Mary should be working and leaving Ryan with a babysitter, period. That Jack would dare to criticize her maternal skills after leaving her high and dry with a baby in the first place outraged Mary so much so that she agreed to go away with Tom for the weekend to Williamsburg right in front of Jack, just to hurt him. As soon as Jack left, Mary felt guilty for using Tom to make Jack jealous, but Tom understood and told her that he still wanted to go away with her, if she wanted to. She agreed to go, and they did.

When they got there, Tom told Mary that he was in love with her, and she told him that she wanted to make love to him. She could not go through with it, however, and told Tom that she still could not get past the thought that Jack was her husband, in spite of everything that he had done. She told Tom that she loved him as a friend, but was not in love with him. Tom was heartbroken, but very understanding, and when they returned home he went to see Maeve. He told her that if Mary still loved Jack and could not be happy with someone else, maybe Jack and Mary should get back together.

Maeve agreed with him that Mary still loved Jack, and confided her belief that Jack still loved Mary, and the two joked that Jack and Mary were being so stubborn that someone ought to lock them in a room together and force them to work things out. Tom, however, decided that was not such a bad idea, and suggested to Maeve that they do it. Faith became involved in the plot, and suggested that they use the basement of Ryan's Bar, which was used as a speak-easy during Prohibition and as such was sound-proofed and contained all the necessary amenities. They decided to lock Jack and Mary in the basement on Election Night, during a party at the bar to celebrate Frank's reelection to the city council. They involved Frank in the plot, who called up Jack, promising him first shot at the news story of a lifetime if he came over to the bar that night.

Maeve sent Mary down to the basement looking for a case of Irish whiskey just before Jack arrived. Then when Jack came in Maeve told a sob story about her back problems acting up again and guilted him into going down to the basement to bring up that same case of Irish whiskey. Maeve then locked them both in, leaving them food, blankets, and everything else they would need for an extended sleepover. Jack and Mary were horrified. Jack took this as proof that the Ryans were as smothering and insane as he had always claimed they were, and began banging on the pipes to try to force someone to let him out. Johnny was most definitely not involved in the plan, and when he heard the banging Maeve had to admit everything to him. He was furious and almost let Jack and Mary out, but Tom and Frank persuaded him to allow Mary closure with Jack, one way or the other. So, Johnny agreed not to interfere, convinced that Mary would come up from the basement hating Jack more than ever.

For a while, it appeared that that was exactly what would happen. For hours, Jack and Mary sat in opposite corners of the basement, refusing to speak to one another. Finally, Mary broke the ice by responding to a crack that Jack had made earlier about her relationship with Tom by informing him that she had never slept with him. Jack softened a little, and they began talking, which led to Jack mentioning Miriam again, and finally blurting out (unintentionally) that he had been visiting Ryan. Mary was shocked, but relieved, because she wanted Ryan to have her father be there for her in spite of everything that had happened between Jack and Mary. Mary offered to let Jack see Ryan regularly, for which he was grateful. He asked her to tell him everything about Ryan, and they spent the whole night talking about their daughter, without any anger or bitterness.

Jack and Mary came to realize that they did not feel very "annulled," and in the days to come, Jack finally was able to admit that he loved Mary and wanted her back. He said that his orphaned childhood would always be a part of who he was, but it did not have to be the only part; that just because the other people he had loved had all left him, did not mean Mary would do the same. He even agreed to make a genuine effort to get along with Johnny. Jack and Mary worked through their hurt and betrayal, and decided to try again. When the family finally let them out of the basement, Jack and Mary took Ryan home to Jack's apartment, and were remarried a few weeks later. (Jack arrived early for this wedding.) This time around, Jack really went the extra mile to be sociable and get along with the Ryans, and even managed to make some inroads with a disbelieving Johnny - he scored quite a few points with his "Da-in-law" by coming up with idea of a honeymoon in Ireland.

Jack and Mary agreed to go to Ireland and continued getting along wonderfully once there - Jack even readily agreed to visit more Ryan relatives while they were there - but they became involved in a disastrous situation in Limerick. Mary recognized a picture hanging in a pub of Tom boxing and discreetly pointed it out to Jack. She was not discreet enough, however, and, unbeknownst to Jack and Mary, the owner and several patrons overheard them. After striking up a conversation with Jack and Mary and asking them to sign the guestbook and to leave a matchbook from her family's bar, the owner went to see a mystery man named Liam to tell him that he had found "Tom O'Brien."

Back home, an oblivious Tom was falling for Faith, despite the fact that they were on opposite sides of the hospital strike. They agreed to disagree on that matter, and Tom unofficially supported the House Association anyway. Luckily for the residents and interns, the Woodards, unlike any twenty-first century media moguls, were actually in support of the strike, and Frank's involvement in it, and what is more they actually wanted to use their papers to support the interns and residents. For some reason, this bothered Jill greatly. She did not seem to believe in giving unions representation in the press, and felt Frank was going too far by shining a spotlight on the situation. After all, so much progress has occurred in the world by people sitting around, doing nothing, and hoping social injustices would magically improve on their own! Jill hated the idea of the interns and residents going on strike, and she accused Frank of "selling out" by supporting the hospital workers, saying he was not the Frank Ryan she had once known. As a hospital administrator, Seneca also opposed the strike, and he and Jill found common ground on the subject of the strike. They bonded over their mutual hatred of Frank.

The administration was forced to eat crow, however, after the Woodard papers hyped a proposed budget Frank had devised - which Rae ambitiously dubbed the "Ryan Plan" - that proved that the hospital could in fact afford a humane work schedule for even its lowliest employees. The hospital finally agreed to the "Ryan Plan" and, while the administration initially tried to avoid the issue of Pat and Faith's records at the final negotiation session - in which Jill was sitting in as hospital counsel, remaining totally silent as the administration attempted to make her sister a sacrificial lamb and actually getting angry at Frank for pressing the issue - the House Association remained firm in their demands that Pat and Faith be vindicated. The hospital finally agreed to remove the letters of reprimand from Pat and Faith's files and to come up with a more democratic disciplinary system for the future. Pat's career was saved, though he remained hooked on pills and continued his self-destructive enabling of Delia. Frank came out of the situation looking like even more of a hero, a development which only further brightened the Woodards' plans for his political future.

Frank's only problem with the Woodards now was that Bill, confined to his hospital bed and knowing his heart could give out at any time and feeling very useless because of those facts, was jealous of the time Frank was spending with Rae. Bill actually had good reason to be jealous, but not of Frank. Rae had taken up an affair with Roger, Bill's own doctor. Rae needed something to do with her time, as she had spend her entire married life running Bill's political career - and, to an extent, his business empire - from the sidelines. While friends suggested that she run for office herself, she declined, either due to lack of interest or deep-down lack of self-esteem or both. She transferred some of her energy to Frank's political career and paid her dues as a dutiful wife by keeping bedside vigil for Bill, but for fun she turned to Roger. Roger, meanwhile, needed a distraction as he was taking a temporary break from Delia until she got over her obsession with the Ryans and realized that he was the right man for her. Roger still loved Delia, and Rae still loved Bill in her way, but for the time being their arrangement was a mutually satisfactory escape.

That is, until Bill hired a private detective to follow Rae. Rae led the detective to Roger's doorstep, and he bugged Roger's apartment. When Bill heard the tapes of Rae having sex with Roger, he confronted her with them. He told her their marriage was over and repeatedly told her to get out of his hospital room, but to no avail - Rae continued apologizing and trying to explain and trying to get him to talk the situation out. Bill finally got out of bed to physically throw her out of the room, only to collapse from another heart attack on the spot. Bill died hours later. He regained consciousness, somewhat, before he died, and seemed to forgive Rae. Rae nevertheless blamed herself, though, and despite her cold exterior was heartbroken in her own way. However, that did not stop her from going about business as usual to cover her tracks, destroying the tapes and paying off the detective and Bill's secretary (who had heard the tape) to leave town. To make sure no one else found out about the affair, Rae also broke it off with Roger, for good.

Jill, however, overheard Roger and Rae's breakup and was shocked. She was very worried that Frank might be corrupted by an involvement with someone who would stoop so low as to have an extramarital affair, all the while remaining disappointed in Frank for aligning himself so resolutely with organized labor. As the year came to an end, Jill was left disillusioned, wondering if Frank had ever shared her bourgeois values, or if they had been too busy using their multi-year political partnership as a cover for jumping into bed behind Delia's back to realize that they had had completely different views of social justice all along. At the same time, Jill was growing more and more comfortable in her relationship with Seneca, and was very glad that Edmond had such an attentive father (though she refused child support, staunchly declaring her belief that mothers who do accept it - apparently even those without law degrees and $400 grand inheritances from daddy, like herself - are somehow less independent for doing so). All the while, though, Seneca continued lying to her about Edmond's paternity.

Meanwhile, Rae stood to inherit Bill's entire fortune and was planning to use it to send Frank to the Senate, unbeknownst to him; Pat was on the brink of a total collapse; Delia had reached new levels of pathetic desperation; and Tom was a sitting duck as Liam was making travel arrangements to come to New York. Jack and Mary were practically the only happy ones, enjoying their last days in Ireland.

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